Eilidh Whiteford, MP for Banff & Buchan



Sunday, 20 March 2011

Banff & Buchan MP Dr Eilidh Whiteford urged UK Fisheries Minister Richard Benyon not to back down over the threat of a ‘mackerel war’ after raising the crisis in the House of Commons.

The SNP MP made the plea to the Minister after raising the issue during DEFRA Questions. Commenting, Dr Whiteford said:

“Action is needed. This matter is of critical importance to the North-east fishing industry.

“2500 jobs, many of them in the North-east, are dependant on the mackerel sector. I have been in close contact with industry representatives and will continue to press the case for them at the highest level in Westminster, while I know my colleague Richard Lochhead will do likewise from a Scottish Government perspective.

“The UK Government, as the EU Member State, must redouble its efforts to ensure a just and fair outcome for our pelagic sector in the face of outrageous and irresponsible behaviour by the Faroese.”

Note: Extract from Hansard follows:

4. Dr Eilidh Whiteford (Banff and Buchan) (SNP): What assessment he has made of the outcome of the recent coastal states discussions in Oslo on mackerel fishing quota; and if he will make a statement. [47196]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Richard Benyon): The meeting of coastal states in Oslo from 9 to 11 March ended without agreement on the management of the north Atlantic mackerel stock for 2011. This is very disappointing as it puts the future sustainability of this extremely important stock at risk. The positions of the parties involved remain wide apart but we will continue to work with industry, other EU member states and the Commission to find the best possible outcome to this difficult situation.

Dr Whiteford: I hope the Minister shares my outrage at the 150,000 tonnes of mackerel that the Faroese have subsequently unilaterally awarded themselves as a quota for mackerel for next year, and I know he shares my concerns about the jobs that will be affected by that, both in my constituency and in other pelagic areas. As a matter of urgency, will he meet the Scottish Pelagic Fishermen’s Association and other key UK stakeholders to discuss this matter further?

Richard Benyon: I recently met stakeholders and raised the matter this week—yesterday, in fact—with Commissioner Damanaki, when I gave support to her strong call for measures to be taken against the Faroese and neighbouring states that cause so much damage to a sustainable stock. The problems that the hon. Lady’s constituents and others around our coast face are very much our priorities, and we will continue to support strong measures to deal with them.

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